Cultural Authenticity: Moroccan Cuisine and New Old Buildings

My position on the beauty of cultural globalization hinges on a difficult word: authenticity. Some critics think any kind of synthetic culture is not authentic, not real. I have two interesting real world examples from my recent travel which illustrate the complexity of this part of the argument.

This is a restaurant in Dublin, Ireland which boasts "authentic Moroccan cuisine." What exactly makes it authentic? Do they have Moroccan chefs? Does it taste as good as it does in Morocco? Since I’m not familiar with Moroccan cuisine, I will use another food I’m more familiar with: sushi. I’m fairly confident I could find sushi at the best sushi bar in San Francisco that’s as good as most sushi in Japan. Is my sushi less authentic? Another example. At Denver Airport a few months ago I bought Chinese food served by Arab immigrants staffing the restaurant. The Chinese food was as good as your basic Chinese food you’d find in any average restaurant. Does the fact that the food was served in an airport by non-Chinese workers mean anything?

In Dresden, Germany they have spent hundreds of millions of euros rebuilding all that was destroyed in WWII. They are rebuilding in the "old" style of the early 20th century. So the building may be built in 2006, but to someone who wasn’t aware of the reconstruction effort, you could easily guess from its architecture that it was built in 1920. Is this "new oldness" as authentic as the building in the next own over that actually was built in 1920 but looks identical to the Dresden building?

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